Lent’s second week brings more graffiti art to the Vatican

Italian street artist Maupal’s illustrations to illuminate Pope Francis’ 2024 Lenten theme are being released weekly throughout the season of Lent.

The 2024 Lenten season is bringing weekly vignettes – single panel cartoons featuring Pope Francis – thanks to a collaboration between Italian street artist Maupal and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The images are meant to illustrate passages from the Pope’s Lenten message and this year’s theme: “Through the desert God leads us to freedom.”

The first week’s vignette featured Pope Francis pushing a wheelbarrow bearing “faith” through the desert, blazing a trail through piles of nails that litter the landscape. Muriel Fleury, head of communications for the dicastery, explained that Maupal – Mauro Pallotta – was selected because of his previous street art featuring the pope. She said that they hoped to “break away from a classical presentation” to give Christians a new perspective and broaden their horizons.

Now, in the second week of Lent, the next image shows the pope is staging something of a prison break. Stretching through the barbed wire, Pope Francis reaches down the high cement prison walls to pull a man and woman out of captivity. Each prisoner is wearing a ball and chain bearing the words “fear” and “hate,” but these shackles seem to have already been removed at the guidance of the Pope. 

On the dicastery webpage, the announcement of the new artwork points toward a passage of Pope Francis’ Lenten message, in which he reminds that the “love of God and love of neighbor are one love.” The Pope invites the faithful “to pause in the presence of God beside the flesh of our neighbor.”

Furthermore, the image could be considered to represent another passage of the message, where the Pope invited “every Christian community to do just this: to offer its members moments set aside to rethink their lifestyles” to evaluate and improve their contribution to society. The prisoners, who have rethought their lifestyles, are now prepared to be pulled out of the prison that sin creates for each of us. 

Lent poster by Italian artist Maupal
Girl eating veggies drinking water
Pope Francis wooden cross Mass liturgy

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